Eye on the States: Florida’s Amendment 6
In 55 days, Americans across the country will go to their polling places and decide who will be the next President of the United States. Many people have deemed this November the most important election in recent history—and they’re right. But the importance of this election is not limited to who will sit in the White House come January. There are also many crucial choices facing Americans this Fall that come in the form of state ballot initiatives.
On November 6, Floridians will vote on Amendment 6, a provision that would prohibit the use of federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or saving the mother’s life. This means that poor women who rely on Medicaid for their health coverage will not have the ability to make their own decisions regarding medical procedures. Notably, this extreme amendment does not contain exceptions in the case of the health of the mother—it only allows abortions if the woman’s life is threatened. This difference is significant: it means that a woman who got cancer while pregnant, for example, would have to carry her pregnancy to term—and wait those extra months to begin chemotherapy. Amendment 6 also has important ramifications for reproductive choice in Florida, including parental consent, rights of minors, and women's health.
As Jews, we are taught that if the health (physical or mental), sanity, or self-esteem of the mother is at stake, abortions are permitted under our legal tradition. We have an obligation to care for the health of our entire community, not just those fortunate enough to afford their own private health insurance.